Rakarrack: An Open Source Alternative to Guitar Rig

with 14 comments

In the last post, I blogged about setting up a guitar amp/effect processor in Arch Linux. In the comments, some readers mentioned an open source alternative to Guitar Rig named Rakarrack. Since we are all advocates and lovers of FOSS software I thought that it deserves a separate post and our dear readers would get a kick out of using this open source effect processing software.

Rakarrack Guitar Arch Linux

Rakarrack Guitar Multi-Effect Processor in Arch Linux

Rakarrack is probably one the best open source guitar effect projects out there and certainly one of the most active ones. It comes with copious amount of presets, from Satriani and Hendrix to Rock Band ones. As far as I can get, there are 60 default presets, and a large amount of effects like Reverb, Delay, Flange, Chorus etc that makes it somehow a nice option for producing metal sounds. Still I haven’t been able to get the meatier, overdrived and heavy sounds that I get in Guitar Rig using tons of commercially-emulated distortion and modulation effects. But probably that’s because I’m still very new to it and the way it works. There are also other features like a built-in tuner, metronome, a monophonic MIDI convertor, ACI etc which come handy.

The interface is a bit strange and ugly. I’m not trying to compare it with the heavily graphical interface of Guitar Rig but I say that there are better ways to make an organized user interface. For example, it’d be nice to have a totally console, text-based interface for this application and I bet that would be the coolest thing I’d ever seen; even more impressive than Guitar Rig interface (I love console-based apps).


Installation is quite easy and straight-forward. You probably prefer to compile from source code; especially if you are on a different distro. Otherwise, there is an Arch package for Rakarrack in AUR.


Whatever else guitar players expect form a free software, it’s not usually a complete solution that rivals expensive/multi-engine commercial effect processors. Still Rakarrack developers have managed to make a software that is suitable for practicing and small gigs. If one day I get crazy enough I’ll most likely start building things like this using Rakarrack. 😉

Written by Woody

January 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Audio

14 Responses

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  1. on that list under tuners Its nice for a tuner.

    This is a common thing lot of jack programs do one thing really great.

    “Still I haven’t been able to get the meatier, overdrived and heavy sounds that I get in Guitar Rig using tons of commercially-emulated distortion and modulation effects.”

    Some of this is not using jackaudio itself to join up different applications. Because you have not got to effects yet. This is control software for jackaudio there is others.

    If this was a proper recording area. jackaudio is your patch panel. That allows you to wire up your audio system between modules(applications) how you like. Is a nice drum machine to run along side. Rakarrack and others.

    Big thing to remember here jackaudio and all the applications off it basically build up a full studio.

    With jackaudio everyone builds up there own mix of applications to get done.

    Really pushing the limits of what jackaudio can do you will have synth drums and a person on synth keyboards and 2 guitars. All feeding into one poor computer.

    Really that jackaudio application page is only the start of what is out there for Linux.

    In open source I don’t know of many a monophonic MIDI convertor. This is one but it has not had work for 5 years . Not that I have gone looking for 1 either in about 5 years.

    Part of the problem here the complete solution is in front of you. Just unlike windows its not in 1 piece. Some assembly required.. Advantage of not being in 1 piece is more configurable.

    To be correct jackaudio is a far more complete solution once assembled.


    January 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  2. You can also try Guitarix:

    This software has built-in effects and can load impulses responses to emulate ambiance.


    January 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    • I did give it a shot but I couldn’t get it work with my audio interface. I’m going to play more with it, maybe I will find a solution.


      January 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

  3. I’d really like to read an informative article on JackAudio, how it works behind the scenes, how it works graphically, how to use the patchpanel fuctionality that everyone says that it has, how to set Audacity, Hydrogen, LMMS, and Rakarrack (and others maybe) to use JackAudio, and how to get it working as the main sound device (?) on a GNOME and KDE based desktop. Please? Because it seems like a black box that people love but no one explains its usage to the rest of us.


    January 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    • Honestly, explaining what exactly JACK is can be very difficult and especially when you say “how it works behind the scene” it is a very technical discussion that requires understanding the JACK API programming. However I agree with the lack of documentation with the usage aspect of JACK. Even strong collaborative documentations like Arch Wiki have failed to produce such thing. I guess I have to learn more about it and write such article(s) myself one day but at this stage I’m very new to it. but I haven’t had any problem with it so far!


      January 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      • Yes its a sad problem of documentation. jackaudio was designed with the idea of being a music mixers best friend.

        Pulseaudio is used in many distributions that is design to be I don’t have a clue but I want audio to work kinda without any real controls.

        Really personally I would love to see Pulseaudio disappear. Yes this documentation needs work. It is the sad part about open source we have a lot of great coders but great coders are not great documentation writers.

        There are a few jackaudio releated demos on youtube.

        Yes I know the biggest and hardest thing is deciding on your Control Application. Once you have decide this about jackaudio you documentation expands a lot. Yes the jackaudio site really needs a new person introduction covering the basics of how Jackaudio works and a compare of control applications.

        QjackCtl For blog. Yes lot of audio gems in here like
        As well as the sourceforge mailing list and forums.

        patchage I don’t really use but I know a lot of people who like it. Who most likely can give you better links.

        For home studio solutions we have this.
        This include a jack Control Application.

        There are others of course with jack control applications.

        So yes picking the Control Application kinda decides how far you want to go. Also without a Control Application of some form for JackAudio you cannot bring out what it offers.

        Yes the nasty side of Jackaudio you want to know how to use it you have to choose your path. Since all user(might be most) tutorials from beginning to end are written for particular Control Application solutions.

        The hard part for anyone coming from windows and mac is that most of the audio applications cannot be jigsawed like Jackaudio allows. Almost every in/out can goto and leaving Jackaudio.

        lefty.crupps Setting up KDE and Gnome… with jackaudio is kind covered in the faq Does most modern day Gnome applications and modernday KDE if it set to use gstreamer as its audio back end. This is a major annoyance that Jack audio special lib out of Adobe flash is not shipped on most distributions.

        Now of course I am not past wishing for a common interface standard like KDE has in Kparts. Allowing all the Linux audio applications to be stacked inside the control applications interface.


        January 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

        • mate, your in-depth knowledge of Linux audio is just staggering! I’m well impressed… wow! In addition to your immense list of useful resources, I’d like to add which I believe is a very good place for linux audio lovers. I think lefty.crupps will especially enjoy this one:


          January 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

          • Be-aware I only use it in my spare time these days for fun. But the longer you use the Linux audio systems to get results you depth will increase. It is just the way it is.

            But I do build up custom computer systems(including custom casing) for people who are far more pro. I am more DJ/mixer than instrument player. In fact I have never proper played any instrument but I can read sheet music. Really I got into using jack because I was a synth person before the DJ stuff appeared. Emulator to end all emulators for us.

            But its still fun to have other people with other instruments play along side me. Some of my night jobs have been sitting on mix tables. This is why I know a good effects item for guitar and others. Yes my machine as the big bad habit of being the central hub with everything connected to it(including mikes). Then out of there into main amp for venue. Yes preamps basically killed off instead being sound card inputs.

            Basically have fun with it. What is the point of playing music if you are not enjoying it.

   This is something I have to have a crack at some point. Basically I am to the point of look at building my own interfaces.

            I have a very good idea what I will be wanting to achieve. turntable/drum pads in 1.

            Yes I know bit insane being on the mix table and wanting to play as well. All I can do try at some point either it will work or fail. With computer assistance on mixing large part of what I do at the mix table these days is in-between performances loading presets in most cases. And maybe a few minor tweaks.

            This is one of the things to be-aware of. Linux world due to Jack is not as pocketed. You have piano, guitar, drums and others all using the same systems. All able to use 1 single computer without conflicts. With 5.1 or 2.1 or what ever out the venue takes.

            So ending your need for a gig to have an effects system for everyone. Not a effects system per person. This does making setting up simpler as well as simpler on spares. Yes the good N+1 nothing is worse then giving a gig and not having replacement part.

            Its the one thing no one can truly dispute about open source software. Its cheep to make you +1 backup devices. No extra licenses required.

            Also you might be like me Little idea of doing some studio work at home for people grew off in a stack of different directions.

            Also with Linux you don’t know where it ends up. This is Linux inside.

            There is effects then there is something like misa.


            January 17, 2011 at 2:35 am

            • I’m not much into synthesizers but this Bristol emulator make me drool all over the place. It’s so amazing.Thanks!


              January 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    • It seems probably the real request is a good howto or introduction to JACK from the user perspective — for example, what does JACK do, and how is it different from the audio programs and plugins.

      Next, you have several plugin packs available — some are build with a dedicated JACK client interface, while some only support LADSPA or LV2. This tutorial would need to show plugin hosts such as Jack-Rack, Ardour, etc, which can be used to incorporate these plugins.

      After all that, you even have Linux support for VST plugins.

      Finally there are several applications like Rakarrack and Guitarix which are built specifically as jack clients.

      What the person may be looking for is a blog that identifies the common tools that can be used to assemble a studio environment and how to interconnect all of them using JACK.

      The short answer is : qjackctl or patchage make great graphical front-ends for making connections in JACK 🙂


      January 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm

  4. Now, with Regard to the ugly user interface: There are some improvements you can make by changing interface and fonts in the user preferences dialog. I agree it still isn’t the nicely polished look of the commercial software, but IMHO is not as ugly as the default FLTK theme.


    January 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

  5. […] Rakarrack: An Open Source Alternative to Guitar Rig | Soosck […]

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